Your ears, both inner and outer parts of them, are delicate structures that perform an important and complicated task: turning sound waves into electrical impulses your brain can process. A host of issues can affect hearing and ear health, from infection to fluid buildup, all of which have various prognoses and treatment options.
One factor that affects your hearing and the noises you hear is so-called ear popping. It has to do with pressure differentials between your ear and your environment and can be harmless or a sign of something more serious.
When you hear (and feel) a popping sensation in your ear, it’s a symptom of pressure-equalizing between the air in your inner and middle ear and the air around you. This is most often experienced with sudden air pressure changes, most well-known during ascent and descent in an airplane.
There’s a small amount of air in your inner ears that are connected to your sinuses by structures called eustachian tubes. Eustachian tubes can be open or closed, sealing off the inner ear from the rest of the environment. At different altitudes and in different environments, air pressure can be higher or lower than this sealed part of your ears, leading to pressure buildup that causes discomfort.
However, the pressure differential is not the only cause of noises like popping or crackling from happening. Infections and excess earwax can also cause these sensations, which will require different treatment methods to stop the sound and potential discomfort.
Most times, especially when you know there’s been a change in air pressure, all you need to do is find a way to open your eustachian tubes to equalize the pressure and “pop” your ears. You do this throughout the day from normal activities such as yawning and chewing, so many people recommend chewing a piece of gum or opening your jaw wide to see if the helps the issue.
If this solution doesn’t work, or you experience crackling while moving your jaw, there could be another issue going on. Earwax buildup can cause crackling if it’s been pushed too close to the eardrum, rustling against either itself or the eardrum, causing the noise. This crackling could also be the result of ear infection, especially if combined with other symptoms, such as hearing loss, headaches, or pain.
On an average day, healthy ears shouldn’t be popping constantly. If you drive for your job and frequently change altitudes as a result, you may be more likely to experience frequent ear popping, and jaw movement techniques most likely can help relieve the pressure you feel on your ears. Other remedies include pinching your nose and swallowing to help engage the eustachian tubes. If you still can’t get relief from ear popping, contact your primary care provider.
Ear popping usually doesn’t coincide with hearing loss, but it can share overlapping symptoms. If you’ve noticed a change in your ears or ear health recently, it may be a good idea to get tested for hearing loss, as many people who could benefit from a hearing aid don’t know and don’t wear one, leading to many complications and negative lifestyle changes. Find customized, professional hearing aids at Georgia Hearing Aid Factory Outlet by stopping by one of our locations or contacting us online today. Georgia Hearing Aid Factory Outlet has three convenient locations to serve patients near communities including Silver City, Dallas, Watkinsville, and more.